Live from D.C.

Picture the White House is the setting for a new reality show

The author, a Chico resident, is a general contractor, father, musician and retired stagehand.

Extreme Makeover: Government Edition (or how reality check became reality show).

Let’s start with the so-called “father of public relations”—Edward Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud. Beginning in the 1920s, Bernays began to influence consumer purchasing by using the psychoanalytical ideas that his uncle and his uncle’s contemporaries formulated for treating their patients.

These psychoanalytical techniques, promulgated in subterfuge form by Bernays, in time became increasingly sophisticated while the basic underlying principle remained the same: “I don’t need this item, but it will make me feel better about myself.” This occurred in an age when broadcasting information en masse occurred via periodicals and soapbox platforming.

Now enter 1930s radio: wireless vaudeville, sponsored soap opera serials, subscription-free minus the cost of the device, deus ex machina. Welcome to the dawning of celebrity worship! The FDR Fireside Chat broadcasts helped influence mutual development of anxious listeners for a reality check with the acquired confidence from a source that earned the public’s trust.

Picture this 1940s to present: deus ex machina meets camera obscura meets the What the radio did for television, the television did for the Internet. Interacting social media outlets allow anyone the star-power illusion to be a cloak-and-blogger network correspondent, this-just-in programmer or show host—brought to you by personalized pop-up sponsors; the circus is in the building.

Imagine repurposing This Old House for a television special: Spectacular remodel of public property (the White House) under the working title Make America Great Again! We will use the Constitution as a blueprint; mitigate challenging building components and specifications in the name of national security; hire subcontractors (cabinet appointments) to dazzle the common man with lawful structural interpretations, identified in the Bill of Rights, as perversions of justice made respectable and a press secretary parroting scripted reportage briefings to tell the public, “love it, learn to love it—absolutely love it!” (Insert commercial break here: “Doubletalk got you down? Take a little advice, like Alice, from the Queen of Hearts, ‘It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backward.’”)